Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

[PS3] Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland (2010)

Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Gust

Atelier Totori is a rare sort of sequel. It feels familiar, while simultaneously feeling fresh and new, and manages to improve on an already great game in almost every way. Totori is set 5 years after Atelier Rorona, and puts players in the role of Totooria Helmold, a 12 year old girl who is the only person who has managed to learn alchemy from the scatterbrained Rorona.

Alchemy is obviously a big part of the title, but it's not Totori's primary goal. Instead, her dream is to become an adventurer and learn what became of her missing mother. Totori obtains an adventurer's license, and must gain points in order to "rank up" as an adventurer. These points can be obtained in a number of ways, from exploring to taking on dangerous monsters to crafting items. For a goal oriented gamer, the point system is incredibly fulfilling. There's always something to work towards, and always something to check off your list. The battle system is still a basic turn based one, but the alchemy system has become more complex, and crafting items is more exciting than ever. I probably wasted weeks of in-game time just building the most perfect bombs I could.

While Rorona's game was more about the characters than the plot, Totori's title has a simple, but genuinely intriguing story. It takes a lot of work to learn what happened to Totori's mother, but the answers are satisfying, especially if you put in the effort needed to obtain the true ending. Most of Rorona's main cast returns, and while they've all grown, they're still the same lovable, goofball characters they were in the last title. Sterk in particular is a delight, and a couple of his scenes had me laughing so hard I was in tears.

Totori is the second game in a trilogy, but players who've never played an Atelier title should be able to play this with minimal problems. Any important information is recapped for players, and the only thing players will really miss out on is appreciation of some of the jokes and character moments. While I'd recommend playing Rorona first, Totori is an excellent game and a great place to start.

Buyer’s Guide:
If you spot a used copy of this title at your local game shop, snatch it up. Gamestop sells it for about $20, and copies are pricier just about everywhere else. Your next best bet would be to purchase the game through the NISA store, which has it for $39.99 with free shipping.

4.5 bottles of liquor made with alchemy out of 5.

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